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Student Learning and Instructor Investment in Online and Face-to-Face Natural Resources Courses

Natural Sciences Education Volume 42, Number 1, ISSN 2168-8281


Substantial growth in online education in the United States has prompted questions on the levels of student learning and satisfaction achieved and the amount of instructor time investment required in the online environment compared to the face-to-face (F2F) environment. To date, very few have studied these measurements in science courses, and none of these studies has involved applied natural resources courses. A pseudoexperiment was conducted to determine whether differences in student learning outcomes and satisfaction and instructor investment existed for two introductory undergraduate wildlife and fisheries sciences courses (WL 220 and WL 230) taught online and F2F by the same instructor and determined what potential factors may explain those differences. Results of this study were mixed. The overall grade distributions were similar between the two environments of the same course. However, significant differences were noted in performance among Bloom's taxonomic groups between the online and F2F sections of WL 220 but not in the WL 230 course. Further, there were no differences in course satisfaction between the two environments in the WL 230 course, but the online WL 220 section students reported lower levels of satisfaction than the F2F students in the same course. Finally, the instructor spent significantly more time per student in the online WL 230 section compared to the F2F section, but no such differences were noted for the WL 220 course. Some inherent differences in the student populations of each course and section and the characteristics of the courses themselves may explain the differences observed above. (Contains 7 tables and 5 figures.)


Wuellner, M.R. (2013). Student Learning and Instructor Investment in Online and Face-to-Face Natural Resources Courses. Natural Sciences Education, 42(1), 14-23. Retrieved October 17, 2019 from .

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